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View Full Version : do bees swarm in the fall? and weak hive



Irene S
10-22-2008, 03:42 PM
I know, such a newbie post :pinch:

RE the swarming, I thought I'd read that bees do this primarily in the spring. I have one hive that is BOOMING, bees coming out from the inner cover as if it's overflowing. there is ALOT of activity in the front of the hive, even on an overcast day with temps in teh high 40s

My other hive (two feet away) is .. well.. it should be on life support. I think it's too late to feed in my area (Connecticut, the daytime temps seem to be in the 50s during the day from now forward? but who knows) so I'm not sure what I can do for it, I put on some patties in hopes of having it survive the winter. The frames seem to be filled up entirely with the exception of the outer two, but there just don't seem to be that many bees in there (at least compared to the booming hive)

For winter, I've reduced down to the smallest entrances and put up some hardware cloth for mouse guards. I got rid of the small blocks of wood between inner and outer cover on the weak hive, I left it on the stronger hive for now. Am I missing anything?

Eyeshooter
10-22-2008, 07:42 PM
Hi, Irene.

I have a very similar situation where one hive is very strong and another has a low census due to swarming late in the season. Though I'm in SW New Hampshire, I am still feeding. Our temps have ranged from high 20s to mid 50s. The hives seem quite heavy and I will take the feeders off this weekend. If your deeps do not weigh about 50 lbs each, you may want to try quickly feeding some heavy syrup (2:1). Estimate their weight by lifting them from the rear. You're location is probably 10 days or so behind us so you should be able to get some syrup in them still.

The mouse guards are a necessity. Be careful closing off the tops as a lack of circulation will allow condensation. Remember, wet bees in winter means no bees in spring...

Good luck!

John

Irene S
10-22-2008, 07:54 PM
John, thx for the response. I'll try some more feeding. The 'slow' hive did seem pretty heavy, but I'll make up some more syrup this weekend for good measure, better safe than sorry! I just want the ladies to make it through the winter safely. I'm not sure why one hive is so much weaker than the other... just one of those things I guess.


Be careful closing off the tops as a lack of circulation will allow condensation. Remember, wet bees in winter means no bees in spring...


Ha, I like that! I'm going to embroider that into a pillow...! :p (after I put back that small block of wood between inner and outer cover on the 'weaker' hive)

Maine_Beekeeper
10-22-2008, 08:13 PM
Hello Irene -

>>RE the swarming, I thought I'd read that bees do this primarily in the spring. I have one hive that is BOOMING, bees coming out from the inner cover as if it's overflowing. there is ALOT of activity in the front of the hive, even on an overcast day with temps in teh high 40s

This also sounds like it could be robbing - particularly "bees coming out from the inner cover" and "a lot" of activity in front of the hive .

Do you have Screened Bottom Boards? Check the insert for lots of cappings debris - or give the hive a heft from the back and see what they feel like.

Or, better yet, take a quick peek in this weekend when the temps are above 50 and the sun is high.

Best,
-Erin

naturebee
10-22-2008, 08:22 PM
*This also sounds like it could be robbing - particularly "bees coming out from the inner cover" and "a lot" of activity in front of the hive .--

I was going to say the same thing.

Joe

Durandal
10-22-2008, 08:23 PM
I just had a swarm two weeks ago. Not too sure if it was from mine or one of the bee trees nearby (there are three that I have found). The queen was unmarked and the hive that is not marked has nice dark queen which this one was not, so who knows. All colonies seem to have the stores they should have and no noticeable difference in numbers.

This swarm died this week. Not enough to cluster one thing of drawn comb and we went down into the 30s the past two days. It was rather amazing, or sad, depending on how you look at it.

The queen was up in the feeder box where the heat had accumulated with three attendants.

Today all are dead. That is the normal consequences of a late swarm I would think.

Edit: Here is the picture I took before she froze...

http://s353.photobucket.com/albums/r381/Carriage_House_Farm/Bee%20Related/?action=view&current=IMG_0149.jpg

Eyeshooter
10-22-2008, 08:35 PM
Hi, Irene.

Make sure your "small blocks of wood" are not too large and letting bees in the top and thus helping cause a robbing issue. I've heard wooden shims like those available from hardware stores are very good. They add just enough space for ventilation but not enough for an entrance.

Here is a great thread on getting ready for winter that was started by Michael Bush in 2004 http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=187362&highlight=winterizing

Great reading!

John

peggjam
10-22-2008, 10:20 PM
Yes, bees will swarm in the fall, which sometimes (IMHO most of the time) leads to the demise of both the swarm and the hive that issued it. Reason being that the swarm doesn't have enough brood cycles remaining to build up to wintering strenght, and chances are good the queen in the hive will not mate properly, and they also lack enough brood cycles to make wintering strenght. Best thing is to determine who swarmed, and recombine them with additional room added. Of course you stand a better chance in warmer climates;).

doncrim
10-23-2008, 08:23 AM
can i combine a week hive at one location with a stronger hive at another location? would i have to get rid of one of the queens?

peggjam
10-23-2008, 09:14 AM
can i combine a week hive at one location with a stronger hive at another location? would i have to get rid of one of the queens?


Yes you can combine two hives from different locations. As far as getting rid of one of the queens, you don't have to....however, you then take a chance on which queen lives, and the weak hive might not have as good of a queen. I would get rid of the queen in the weak hive.:)

Irene S
10-23-2008, 09:27 AM
thanks, all... so many good suggestions, and Eyeshooter that is a great link about winter prep THX! :thumbsup:

I'll be sure and check the size of the shim (I'm pretty sure it was 3/8) and I'll do some supplemental feeding on the weaker hive. I'm not entirely sure there was robbing on the stronger hive, I only saw the bees clustering when I took the inner cover off, not before, but it's my first year so I basically have no clue as to what I'm looking at.. :doh:

fingers crossed for RuPaul and Devine, my two hives! (yes I name them, what can I say, I'm one of 'those' beekeepers'... LOL :rolleyes: